Massachusetts Daily Collegian

UMass men and women’s track and field prepare for John Thomas Terrier Invitational

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Collegian File Photo

(Collegian File Photo)

The indoor season is in full swing, as the Massachusetts men’s and women’s track and field teams will compete in the John Thomas Terrier Invitational at Boston University, which attracts top competition from across the country. It will include teams like Florida State, Syracuse and even some professionals from New Balance.

A meet of this caliber provides a special opportunity for both teams to measure themselves, and at this point in the season the focus begins to narrow for each athlete as championship season lurks right around the corner.

“I recognize that the athletes aren’t quite at a championship level at this point in the season, but I want them to start taking the steps towards it,” UMass men’s coach Ken O’Brien said.

The Minutemen have had meets that showed promise for the team earlier in the season. O’Brien himself admits he began to get excited after a first place finish at the Beantown Challenge on Jan. 16.

However, in the previous meet in Roxbury at the Joe Donahue indoor games, UMass experienced a bit of a hiccup on the scorecards, finishing seventh out of 15 teams.

“I think those who have been improving over the first couple of meet’s will continue to gain momentum in this meet, and those who haven’t as much will see that they are still capable of building it up,” O’Brien said.

The Minutemen will need one of their best performances if they want to compete with some of the nation’s top programs and professional athletes at the meet. O’Brien stressed that he doesn’t concern himself with what the professionals do when it comes to the development of his runners.

UMass will need most but not all athletes to take the next step toward championship caliber performances at BU. The coaching staff will be looking to build a balanced team across all events going into this meet.

“I expect the veteran athletes to start to move up in their events this weekend, but some of our freshman performers might need to take a little more time,” O’Brien said.

Minutewomen look to keep rolling

The Minutewomen are coming off a third place showing at the Joe Donahue Indoor Games. While that meet did have a lot of strong competition, it doesn’t quite match what is waiting for them at BU.

“This is a different type of meet with a lot of high end competition,” UMass women’s coach Julie LaFreniere said. “We’ll use this meet to revamp the athletes in different events.”

UMass has been stockpiling Eastern College Athletic Conference qualifiers each week, as well as gaining strong positions in multiple events for the A-10 championship that is now only three weeks away.

With the championship season in mind, it is imperative to LaFreniere that the team stays healthy in that time.

“This meet will just gauge where we are heading into the championship season, and most of our athletes will only be competing in one event,” LaFreniere said.

One performance to watch for this weekend will be the first section of the mile, when junior Heather MacLean will be competing against some of the best professional talent that will be in attendance.

The Minutewomen have had exciting performances from the entire team, and the freshmen class in particular has been impressive. Freshman Emilie Cowan has earned two out of the last three A-10 Student-Athlete of the week awards.

The combination of the freshman class, along with veteran athletes like MacLean, Carly Zinner and throwers Margaret Riseborough and Kelsey Crawford, has lifted the morale of the Minutewomen.

“I love the group’s competitiveness and determination, and they’ve been a happy team having a lot of fun competing and being successful,” LaFreniere said.

Nick Souza can be reached at [email protected]

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